So at the start of Spring Training, finding a replacement at the top of the Mets' lineup was one of the top priorities for manager Terry Collins. Andres Torres began the season as the team's regular leadoff hitter, but he went down just one game into the season with a left calf injury. He was replaced by Ruben Tejada -- a move Collins initially disliked -- who thrived in the role until landing on the disabled list on May 6 with a recurring right quadriceps strain.
Tejada rejoined the Mets on June 24, and he has been nothing short of sizzling since. In eight games -- all batting second in the order -- he was batting .353 (12-for-34) with six runs scored and three RBIs entering Tuesday, including a four-hit performance against the Dodgers on Friday, which matched a career high.
So on Tuesday, Tejada re-assumed his role as the Mets' leadoff hitter -- at least for one night -- for the team's series opener against the Phillies.
For Collins, Tejada's recent production -- and the fact that he hits right-handed -- were the incentives for the move. As a team, the Mets are batting just .244 against left-handed pitching, compared to .264 against righties.
"The Phillies have four left-handed relievers, and two left-handed starters coming up," Collins said.
Right-hander Vance Worley got the nod for Philadelphia on Tuesday, but southpaws Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
"We're trying to decide how we can mix this lineup up so we can protect ourselves a little bit," Collins said.
Collins has used a mix-and-match approach against lefties in 2012, but he has been admittedly desperate for production from right-handed hitters. Enter Tejada.
"It's about getting to the starter. That's ultimately what it is," Collins said. "If you can get the lead, you can ultimately dictate what goes on."
So Collins' expectations for Tejada out of the leadoff spot? Pretty simple.
"Get on. That's what I want him to do," he said. "We've got to get him on base."
Daniel Murphy, who has also heated up of late, batted second behind Tejada on Tuesday. Murphy had 10 RBIs over his last four starts entering Tuesday, including five against the Dodgers on Friday.